ASUU Strike: Protesting UNIBEN Students Send Strong Warning to FG, Lecturers

…Say ‘We Are Tired of Strikes, We Want to Graduate’

UNIBEN STUDENTS

Students of the University of Benin on Wednesday morning trooped out of their campuses in their large numbers to solidarise with the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU. The students, who called on the federal government to meet the demands of ASUU and make learning more convenient for them, threatened that the effect would not be nice should the federal government fail to resolve the disagreement.

Barricading the busy Benin-Lagos Highway, the displeased students were seen in their hundreds at the entrance gate of the Ugbowo campus of the university chanting solidarity songs, and displaying placards with different inscriptions such as: ‘Education is our right’; “5 years’ course has turned to 7 years; “FG, settle ASUU”; and “Enough is Enough”.

Recall that ASUU had on Monday, declared one-month warning strike after its National Executive Council , (NEC) meeting in Lagos following the failure of the Federal Government to honour its agreement with them.

It was quite a spectacle as some of the students converted the highway into a football pitch, playing in sets, while members of the Students Union Government, SUG, shared some refreshments like bottles of water, soft drinks, and snacks to the protesters. The activities of the protesting students resulted in gridlock on the Benin-Ore expressway for hours, forcing many motorists to avoid the route, while those who were already trapped, had no choice but to endure the inconvenience of the chaotic traffic.

President of the Students Union Government, SUG, Foster Amadin, said the students would continue the protest in support of the lecturers. Amadin told journalists that “This is a warning protest. We are airing our grievances to let the government know that we are watching. ASUU should know we are watching, and that if proper measures are not taken to check this strike, the effect will not be nice. We are ready to stay here except the federal government listens to our lecturers.”

Insisting that all they wanted was to return to classes and graduate from the institution, Amadin said “Let the federal government see to the demands of ASUU and let ASUU also consider the federal government’s position. All we want is to go back to our classes. I want to graduate; I want to leave the school. I am tired, and that is our grievance”.

Also speaking, the Speaker of the SUG, UNIBEN, Dignity Amenaghawon, said “The essence of the protest is because of the ASUU strike. We are in the streets clamouring for the federal government to answer ASUU’s demands and put an end to these strikes. The federal government should respond to the demands ASUU is making.

“This is not the first time ASUU is going on strike. This issue with the federal government has been on ground since 2009. They had an agreement since 2009 that the federal government is yet to fulfill. The students are at the receiving end because from time to time, when they go on strike, students are affected. We have a situation where students enter the school for a course of four years and they will be in campus for six to seven years. In other countries, things are not like this. The government should answer ASUU’s demands. We are in solidarity with ASUU. The government should meet their demands”.

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